As the country gears for reforestation so as the need to plant trees increases and this to farmers means they should plant fruit trees which has many benefits and as we are in tough economic times they can be a source of income. According to the World Bank data, in 2015 Kenya’s forest area was 44,130 km2 or 4,413,000 hectares. Currently, we are losing 50,000 hectares of forest each year through deforestation primarily due to the emergence of an expanding affluent society that wants to dine on steak, drive cars, recline on comfortable seats, live in elegant houses and consume fresh fruits and vegetables. To meet this demand, commercial agriculture for products such as livestock, horticulture, timber and rubber are increasingly encroaching on forest lands.
This translates to a loss of 1.13 percent forest cover annually and amounts to a loss of Sh 1.9 billion every year (Kenya Forestry Services (KFS) – Kenya Open Portal Data). If all factors hold constant, and if we do nothing to reverse it, Kenya shall be a complete desert in 113 years.
Why should we care about a declining forest cover?
One tree can supply oxygen for up to four people on earth per day and absorb more than 21 kg of carbon dioxide per year. Trees serve as natural sponges, collecting rainfall and filtering sediments and other pollutants from the water in the soil before it reaches a water source. It then releases it slowly into streams and rivers.
Apart from the farmers getting income other benefits of planting fruit trees include;
- Greater access to fresh, healthy food, which improves the health and well-being of all residents. Fruits have immense health benefits as they contain nutrients required in our bodies for healthy living.
- Improved air quality, which improves respiratory health for all residents.
- Reduced flooding and water pollutants due to storm water run-off, which improves water quality.
- Increased shade and lower air temperatures, which reduce the need for energy-intensive air conditioning.
- Improved soil quality and decreased erosion.
- New habitat for birds and bees.
- Increased biodiversity in our food supply.
- A multitude of opportunities for experiential learning.
For maximum yields of quality fruit, some maintenance is involved. Pruning is especially important to fruit trees. Crop yield and the health of the tree itself are greatly affected by pruning, but it must be done the right way at the right time. Timing and techniques vary by the type of fruit you’re growing.